Absentee wrote:I've been thinking about this one for a while. All of my major spikes in symptoms, the initial through present, have occurred around extremely stressful life events.
extreme work stress
buying first house
stressful "promotion" at work
Hmmm, it seems to me that those events are also some of the most fabulous, exciting, rewarding, invigorating, emotionally fulfilling, life-affirming events of one's life. In short, they ARE life. I congratulate you on those accomplishments!
One of the first things I WAS TOLD (slight edit from my first version)
on MS forums 6 years ago was that STRESS was the horrible enemy of MS and was to be avoided at all costs (ha!) or you would suffer dire consequences, up to and including the dread...(oh, I hesitate to even speak it aloud)... exacerbation!!. I heard it a hundred times within days of my first forum visit. And whatever you do, DON'T OVERDO anything, especially allowing yourself to get overheated with... (Gasp!) healthy exercise! (Strenuous exercise has since become a bit more accepted...)
I find it disturbing that so much of the official MS "information" and advice is set on instilling fear
into us, especially the unreasonable fear of stress. Of course having to deal with large amounts of real stress is not particularly good for anyone, with or without MS. But living life at all makes stress completely unavoidable, so the trick is learning to take a deep breath and "go with it" – appreciate and enjoy the opportunities it presents as well.
In the years since my dx, I've watched people express sheer terror wondering how they'll possibly be able to handle an upcoming major event, good or bad. Yikes! The constant admonitions to avoid stress make us feel guilty for not being able to do so, when that's virtually impossible. Learning to enjoy the excitement of the experience instead, proves that those of us with MS are not a completely separate species, but an integral part of the rest of humanity, with or without a few heightened sensations. Maybe it's not a symptom after all, but a thrill instead. (Or maybe that's a bit too Pollyanna-ish, even for me. Sorry.
I know that I'm in the minority, but I've never noticed stress as having much specific effect on my symptoms at all, and I keep charts. Of course, my life is so full of stress (or what anyone with a more normal mind than mine would perceive as stress
) and so full of symptoms that I doubt I could accurately correlate a symptom with an event easily. Unlike charting my foods, where the result is immediate, the biggest events of one's life (like yours, for instance) actually play out over weeks, months, or years, making it likely that illness will coincide with them sooner or later.
Another of my pet peeves is that we're told that something as common and inevitable as 'stress' can have such a major detrimental effect on MS, but also told that treating MS correctly requires us to go on the attack, blasting it with some of the most powerful, dangerous, expensive drugs around – ones that attack our entire bodies. And that treating MS gently, coaxing it with diet & exercise, and by learning to handle the inevitable stresses of life, won't work without DRUGS. I still don't get it.
I do my best to remove stress from my own life, however. Whenever I find myself standing vigil with sick family members in emergency rooms and post surgery, I never hesitate to remind them, "Dammit! You know I have MS and I'm not allowed to have any stress!"
Now, if only I could keep THEM healthy...
I wish fabulous events for everyone's life and the good health to enjoy them.